The third annual 2017 R&D 100 Conference concludes Friday, Nov. 17 with an exciting afternoon session, featuring key insights on innovation and fascinating discussions on cutting-edge technologies and new R&D opportunities.

The R&D 100 Awards gala event—which will showcase the past year’s most exceptional advancements in science and technology—will take place following the conference.

The conference’s afternoon session will open with “Sustaining Innovation: Managing the Challenges and Markets,” (1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m., Ospray Ballroom), a General Session focused on R&D strategies and leadership presented by Bob Maughon of Dow Chemical Company.

In his talk, Maughon will discuss the challenge of sustaining innovation in R&D, particularly in a time where budgets and programs are increasingly at risk.

He will share insights from Dow Chemical Company and the R&D strategies they use to “stack the deck” to make sure innovation continues to strive.

By rigorously managing the R&D portfolio based on quantifiable metrics, focusing on R&D productivity and timely delivery of technology, and applying technical excellence in both product and process design, Dow is able to ensure success in R&D.

Maughon will also discuss the importance of collaboration to extend access to new inventions and to create customer intimacy.

The nature of collaboration in R&D is evolving. Customers are involved much earlier in the R&D process, especially market leaders, to reduce the time required for development while reducing market uncertainty. Maughon will explain how the world of R&D is changing and how to face these challenges to improve the delivery of innovation.

R&D Potential in Space

Maughon’s talk will be followed by a panel session exploring R&D potential in a mostly unexplored place—outer space.

The space-based environment has become an increasingly attractive destination for research, developing new technologies and manufacturing. This panel session, “Partnering in Space: A Frontier for Innovation” (2:40 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Osprey Ballroom), will explore the opportunities and commercial prospects for R&D activities in low-Earth orbit and onboard the International Space Station (ISS). These platforms enable interactions where the effects of micro-gravity can accelerate life science and physical science discoveries and also where a 3D printing venture is manufacturing products to meet real-time needs on the ISS.

Attendees will learn about innovative research in the life sciences, medical research, lab on a chip technology as well as other areas of research that focus on using the space environment as an innovative laboratory for solving complex problems on earth and beyond. The growing trend of commercial partnerships with NASA will be discussed and provide insights into the challenges of bringing research results to the market.

Panelists include: Erika Wagner, PhD, Business Development Manager for Blue Origin, LLC, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation; Justin Kugler, business development engineer for advanced projects at Made In Space; Michael Roberts, PhD, Deputy Chief Scientist of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space; Siobhan Malany, PhD, Director of Translational Biology, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute; and Tony Gannon Director of Business Development, Space Florida.

Role of Robotics and AI

For those interested in how next-generation technologies will affect R&D, the session “Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: Can They Make Today’s Researchers Obsolete? (2:40 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Swan 10) will also be presented following Maughon’s talk. Given by Mark E. Jones, PhD, Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow for Dow Chemical, the talk will focus on automation’s impact on the world of R&D and innovation, offering a long-time observer’s insights into how the workforce will cope with the change.

Jones will discuss how society is on the verge of an inflection point, as robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are now able to tackle many routine tasks. The list of careers in jeopardy as a result of technology's advance includes telemarketers, fast food employees, insurance underwriters, warehouse workers and tax preparers, and the future promises that robots and AI will be taking on more challenging, higher-skilled tasks.

Despite this, the advances in automation and AI allow more to be achieved in the lab and uncover additional research that is needed. In his talk, Jones will discuss how these tools are increasing productivity in the chemical enterprise while keeping researchers employed.

R&D 100 Awards

After the conclusion of the conference, the R&D 100 Awards gala event (7 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., Swan Ballroom 1-6) will take place, where the top R&D 100 Awards winners will be revealed live. Conference attendees will not want to miss this celebratory evening of recognition and ceremony. At the event, attendees will be hear about the most cutting-edge companies in research and development and meet the very people responsible for the most significant strides in the past year. Registration for the R&D 100 Awards will take place from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. in the Mockingbird Corner.

The R&D 100 Awards have served as the most prestigious innovations awards program in research and development for the past 55 years, honoring pioneers in science and technology. In 2015, the R&D 100 Conference was launched as an educational event that both celebrates the historic R&D 100 Awards and provides an educational opportunity that is unique for the R&D community.

Together, the 2017 R&D 100 Awards gala event and the 2017 R&D 100 Conference explore significant strides in R&D, offering an enriching experience for R&D professionals of all levels and specialties. For registration and conference details visit:

The two-day event takes place Nov. 16 – 17 at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida.